Renowned stage and film actor Stephen McKinley Henderson will be the 2018 Master Teacher for the nationally acclaimed Lunt-Fontaine Fellowship program at Ten Chimneys, the theater museum near Milwaukee.
Henderson has appeared in movies such as Ladybird, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and opposite Denzel Washington in both the film and the stage production of the August Wilson classic Fences. Henderson is also a renowned teacher and will bring a unique set of skills to Ten Chimneys.
The fellows program at Ten Chimneys has become widely respected in acting circles. Every summer a group of experienced actors and actresses gather at Ten Chimneys for a week of apprenticeship under a Master Teacher. The fellows spend the week together going over selected material and learning or refining acting techniques. At the end of the week the Master Teacher hosts a Q & A and talks about their lives, their careers and how the week has been. Then, the following night, the instructor gathers with the actors and they put on varying performances from the materials they’ve spent the week going over.
Past Master Teachers include Alan Alda, Phylicia Rashad, Jason Alexander, Olympia Dukakis and Alfred Molina.
But 2018’s edition featuring Stephen McKinley Henderson is expected to be different. While all the above mentioned names are well-known and accomplished actors, Henderson brings a dimension of intense instruction that will be fresh at Ten Chimneys. Henderson is also familiar with the work of August Wilson, whose material he will be working with the actors on during his week at Ten Chimneys.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to get someone who was not just a great actor but also a teacher,” Ten Chimneys CEO Randy Bryant told Madison365. “He’s the real deal. He is known as a great teacher. He’s one of the foremost authorities on August Wilson. He’s warm and kind and gentle. He also knew August Wilson personally.”
Bryant said that Henderson was the first choice for the fellows program in 2018 and that previous Master Teacher Phylicia Rashad was instrumental in helping book Henderson.
“I made a request to Phylicia and told her that’s who we wanted,” Bryant said. “He teaches at Juilliard and he’s taught at many places. With the Lunt-Fontaine fellowship being a premiere program we wanted someone who was known as a great teacher and is approachable. So I reached out to Phylicia and asked her if she would speak directly to him on our behalf. She said ‘absolutely’. She called me right back and said he would take our call.”
For Ten Chimneys, the fact that the program has grown to the point that top notch talent is ready and waiting to answer their calls is a huge statement about the strength of their relationships within the acting community.
“Phylicia is a great supporter of Ten Chimneys, of theater, of other actors,” Bryant said. “It’s through relationships that we find these folks. It’s all about relationships. You can imagine that these actors and actresses get a ton of people coming at them. How do they know which thing is legit or worth their time? The Ten Chimneys program has grown to be a premier thing to do and that makes this place quite special.”
The program will also include a public event, A Conversation with Stephen McKinley Henderson, will take place on Friday, July 20 at the Ten Chimneys national historic landmark estate in Genesee Depot. Tickets are currently on sale at www.tenchimneys.org.
On Saturday, July 21, a group of 10 actors led by Stephen McKinley Henderson will perform works of August Wilson. The list of actors who will be participating has not been released yet, but Bryant says it will be an established group of well-known faces who have appeared on stage, screen and television.